Today I met the kindergarteners that I will be working with once a week for the entire school year. The morning group was fresh and eager. We began by looking at a reproduction of a Matisse painting (Red Interior, Still Life on a Blue Table, 1947).
I asked the students to tell me what they noticed about it. They were quite observant and noticed objects, colors, shapes, and lines. The painting’s most outstanding feature is red walls painted with black zigzag lines. It was the main thing I hoped they’d notice, and they didn’t disappoint me! This led to noticing other lines in the picture that were straight or curved. Next I read the book Lines That Wiggle (Whitman and Wilson, 2009) which features all kinds of funny monsters cavorting around quite a variety of lines. After we danced to some lively music with scarves drawing lines in the air. Last we sat down to some big sheets of yellow roll paper and had a scribble fest. The kids and I really enjoyed scribbling, making dots, drawing with multiple markers in one or both hands. I didn’t care what was created by the students, or what I drew. I just wanted to enjoy the feeling of large arm movements or the repetitive motion of creating dots. I was very in the moment and having lots of fun. And by the way…..so were the kids!
In between groups I had a break and stopped at Safeway to pick up some milk.I saw the book Wreck this Journal which I have been wanting for a couple of weeks. It was displayed with a choice of four different cover colors and it was 25% off. I marveled that this book was being marketed to the masses in Safeway of all places! It gives me hope for American artistic culture that this book is now found not just reviewed in blogs but plastered at the end of every checkout aisle in the supermarket. It’s not Twilight or Harry Potter or the latest Dan Brown novel….it’s a drawing book that tells you to let go of the product and indulge in the process! After I bought it I wondered if I was going to have to fight my sons for it or if maybe I should buy them each one of their own. At this point….I guess I could share unless one of them really gets into it!
My afternoon students were tired and had trouble sticking with me in looking at the Matisse. The group was larger, but had far fewer observations than the morning group. I realized they could not handle sitting through the Lines Wiggle book. We went right to drawing in the air with our scarves and scribbling. The afternoon group had some very exploratory scribblers, and several kids who got into drawing dinosaurs with lots of sharp teeth. There were zigzags and swirls and dots as in the morning, but I felt as if I didn’t hear the same level of discussion and interaction or the diversity in the exploration of different types of lines as I had seen in the morning group. At the end of each group we had a chance to look at our big drawings and make comments. In the afternoon the first comment turned into an argument between two students because a light blue scribble accidentally covered a small part of a brown dinosaur that one of the students had drawn. After that issue was diffused, we were able to briefly look and comment about the other drawings. I gave a sigh of relief when the afternoon group left. I think a puppet will need to present info to this group next week, as they aren’t terribly excited by me (at least yet!)
My consolation is that….I get to begin wrecking my journal as soon as I finish this sentence!
P.S. My advice….have a scribble fest with your family, friends, or students. It’s a liberating experience!